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Bowl of kale salad with boiled eggs and avocado on white background
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Flexitarianism is on the rise, but what is a flexitarian diet, exactly? According to a 2021 consumer survey, about 36 percent of Americans identify as "flexitarian", compared to just 3 percent who say they are vegan. The flexitarian diet, which takes the No. 2 spot in U.S. News & World Report's ranking of the best overall diets, is an amalgamation of vegetarianism, veganism, pescatarianism, and omnivorism. It's both plant-based and not, strict and fluid.

So what does that possibly mean? Flexitarianism is a hybrid, personal diet, which varies based on the person following it. That is to say, someone may strictly adhere to Meatless Mondays or be completely vegan before dark, or only eat meat or dairy (or both) on special occasions, and all of these people fit into the flexitarian diet.

The commonalities is that the intention behind a flexitarian diet is to eat fewer animal products, whether for environmental, ethical, or nutritional reasons, or an amalgamation of all three. Flexitarians do not eat meat at every meal, and some only eat small amounts of meat rather than making it their main protein. The beauty of a flexitarian diet is that the consumer can design it to fit their lifestyle.

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And many brands are eager to help. Flexitarian cruises, meal kits, restaurant menus, and more are offering consumers the option to eat more plant-based foods, making animal-derived products an accessory rather than the main ingredient.

Sound super doable? It is! If you're eager to break into flexitarianism, start by thinking about why the diet appeals to you, and what changes you want to make. Do you want to only eat animal protein a few days a week? Substitute dairy products for their plant-derived counterparts? Switch out your weekend bacon for tempeh? Only order vegetarian entrees at restaurants or cook vegetarian at home and eat meat when you go out or go on vacation? Flexitarianism is just what it sounds like, flexible vegetarianism, so you can prioritize your nutrition, cravings, and budget in a way that best suits your lifestyle.

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If you're ready to embrace a flexitarian diet, here are a few recipes to get you started.

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Prepare to add this simple, flavorful vegan recipe to your weekly rotation! It works well as a lunch or dinner, and you can switch up the crunchy veggies or even the grain base—try wild rice or quinoa—to keep things interesting.

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This recipe is so fun because it demonstrates how vegetables can so easily sub in for meat, especially when they're seasoned in familiar ways.

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This hearty meal is also healthy because it's slathered in a zucchini-cashew pesto! Sub in dairy-free cheese if you want to go totally vegan, or try using a different pasta shape for another take on this excellent combo.

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Fact: You don't need meat or fish on salad to make it a meal. This citrus salad proves it! The dish is tangy, bright, and crunchy enough to munch on all week long.

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The flexitarian diet can help you get creative with familiar recipes, like this chicken sausage stew. Can you sub in veggie sausage or go halfsies on meat and veggie-made sausage? Sure. Mix and match different grocery products—like Seemore's which makes meat and veggie blended sausage—to see what flexitarian-friendly substitutes you should stock in your freezer for quick swaps.